Winter is a dreary season throughout most of the US – but not in Boise! There are so many opportunities, both indoors and out, to make the most of Boise Idaho winters! Although Boise doesn’t get a ton of snow, it’s surrounded by beautiful snow-capped foothills and mountains pretty consistently from November to February. So if snow sports are your thing, they’re just a short drive away. If the idea of snow just sounds like too much work (i.e. shoveling your car out), you can still get to enjoy the winter sights, sounds, and feelings right from the comfort of downtown!
I love the Idaho Botanical Garden all year round, but the winter season offers a unique family-friendly event that transforms the garden into a wonderland. This year, over 550,000 energy-efficient lights were hung across the garden’s 14 acres. Bundle up, grab some hot chocolate at one of the food trucks, and wander around with your partner, kids, and/or friends! Go during the winter solstice for extra brightness and magic on the darkest day of the year.
Winter is a time of introspection – embrace it with a class at Boise’s new downtown meditation center. The studio also offers guided breathwork and Tai Chi classes in an “urban energy oasis.”
3. Go skiing or tubing at the local ski hill, Bogus Basin
Bogus Basin is a serious winter weekend destination for Boisians and for good reason! The ski hill offers locals excellent downhill and cross-country skiing only 16 miles away. It’s so accessible that many people also go after work on weekdays and enjoy night skiing on well-lit trails (both Nordic and Alpine!). If you or members of your family don’t ski, why not try tubing instead? With a convenient conveyor-lift back to the top of the hill, you’ll have energy to go all day.
If I could live anywhere, it would be inside of Edwards Greenhouse. Seriously, it’s warm and tropical with the most amazing floral smells even in the dead of winter. At the end of January/beginning of February, the entire giant greenhouse is filled with an intoxicating fragrance as the indoor jasmine vines burst into bloom. The greenhouse also offers yoga classes, house plants galore, and the most beautiful winter decor that you never knew you needed.
5. Rent snowmobiles
There are many places close to Boise where you can rent snowmobiles and spend the day zipping around the backcountry. For an extra-special adventure, take a trip up to McCall and ride snowmobiles to Burgdorf Hot Springs! It’s the only way to access this remote retreat during the winter months.
It just wouldn’t feel like the holidays without Love Actually. What’s even better than watching the movie at home is watching it at Boise’s coolest historical theatre. Cheer for your favorites (Hugh Grant, “Natalie,” and Colin Firth) and boo for the bad guys alongside your fellow Boisians! You can also order drinks downstairs and bring them to your seat to enjoy the movie with an adult bevvie.
Hiking in the winter is so underrated! Obviously, it’s not a good idea to hike where it’s muddy or super icy, but snowshoeing through soft powder is such a good workout. Not to mention the fact that winter landscapes are some of the most stunning scenes on the planet. Hiking where the snow is tightly packed or traversing on snowshoes may be the best way to take in the beauty of the season. Plus, you hardly ever get gross and sweaty the way you would during any other time of the year. You can find a lot of great trails near Bogus Basin and in the Boise foothills.
8. Go on a sleigh ride
To really get into the holiday spirit, take a short trip to either Garden Valley, Donnelly, or Sun Valley for a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride. You can even arrange to have dinner waiting for you at a cabin. Your kids will thank you for making their fairytale dreams come true!
The Springs at Idaho City are conveniently located only an hour outside of Boise, and the proximity along with all of its amenities have made it a popular winter weekend destination. You can spend the whole day just soaking, drinking, eating, and lounging. There are also showers, towels, lockers, and a sauna in addition to a hot spring pool and extra-warm hot tub. Recently, though, I have felt that it gets a bit too crowded on the weekends, so I prefer to go after work on a weekday to really unwind and relax.
10. Take a photography workshop at Cole/Marr and practice out in the winter landscape
Although the days are shorter in winter, there is still plenty of time after work for continued learning. Whether you are a beginner or advanced photographer, these workshops will give you the confidence to brush the dust off that old Nikon and start capturing the beauty of the snowy scenery around you.
Just minutes from downtown Boise, Camel’s Back Park offers more than just hiking and running trails. At the start of winter, the trees are fastened with hay bales in preparation for the sledding season. Grab your sleds, kids, and dogs, and stop by Hyde Park for some coffee on your way to the hills!
McCall is a quaint lakeside town with an annual Winter Carnival featuring parades, live music, and mind-blowing snow sculptures! The town also boasts plenty of outdoor activities – visit Brundage Mountain or Tamarack Resort for epic skiing and snowboarding.
I hope these tips for having fun during a Boise Idaho winter have helped you and that you have a blast with these activities! Let me know in the comments if there’s anything more to add and be sure to check out these related posts for more winter tips in Idaho!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 29-year-old from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.